England v Ireland: Will the Three Lions’ long wait continue?

Date published: Wednesday 11th November 2020 6:10


England haven’t beaten the Republic of Ireland since 1985. Ahead of Thursday’s England v Ireland friendly at Wembley, we take a closer look the facts and figures surrounding the clash.


England v Republic of Ireland

Thursday November 12
Kick-off 2000 GMT
Live on ITV


England v Ireland: Form

England beat the world’s top-ranked team, Belgium, in the last international window, although they rather wasted that good work by losing at home to Denmark a few days later.

To be fair, that loss came with the Three Lions reduced to 10 men for the majority of the match following Harry Maguire’s red card.

The Denmark defeat leaves England struggling to reach the Nations League finals – they will likely have to beat both Belgium and Iceland in the next week if they are to repeat their 2019 appearance.

This friendly against the Irish will help prepare them for those contests and England haven’t lost any of their last nine friendly internationals. At home, the unbeaten run is 12 in such matches.

Ireland began life under new boss Stephen Kenny at the start of this season but he’s yet to taste victory following three draws and two defeats – his side exited the European Championship play-offs last month and are now focusing on their against relegation fight in the Nations League ahead of Sunday’s trip to Wales.

Goals have been a big problem for them. Only one has been scored thus far this season with the last four games seeing Ireland shut out by opponents lacking England’s strength in attack. On the plus side, only three goals have been conceded.


Head-to-head: England’s struggle

Ireland have never won at Wembley, having visited on six previous occasions, although this time there will be no fans.

That may come as a relief to some, with the 1995 Lansdowne Road riot – during and after an Ireland-England friendly – still vivid in many memories.

Other famous meetings of these nations include Ireland’s 1-0 win at Euro 88, thanks to a goal from Ray Houghton, and the 1-1 draw in both sides’ opening game of the 1990 World Cup.

Ray Houghton

The most recent clash came in Dublin in 2015, a friendly which ended goalless.

All of those games form part of a seven-match unbeaten run for Ireland against the English. The last six, which include that abandoned game in 1995, have all been drawn, either 0-0 or 1-1.

That is England’s joint-longest ongoing winless run – they’ve also failed to win any of their last seven against Romania.

Match odds (Betfair): England 2/7; Draw 4/1; Ireland 9/1

Correct score 0-0 – 12/1 (Paddy Power)

Correct score 1-1 – 17/2 (Betfair)

Goals at a premium?

As you can see above, goals have been in short supply in this fixture down the years.

In fact, only three of the sides’ 16 encounters have seen three or more goals scored.

Given the start both teams have made to their 2020/21 season, it’s probably not worth getting your hopes up about this being a goal-filled thriller.

As already pointed out, there have been just four goals scored in Ireland’s five matches this term and they’ve been responsible for only one of them.

England were full of goals during Euro 2020 qualifying but the flow has receded somewhat of late – they failed to score in two games with Denmark and needed a late penalty to beat a below-strength Iceland 1-0.

Those hoping for goals can at least look at recent friendlies – England beat Wales 3-0 in the last international window, while Ireland managed to beat both Bulgaria and New Zealand by three goals to one in their most recent friendly matches.

That said, there have been fewer than three goals in four of England’s seven friendlies since the start of 2018. The same statistic applies to Ireland.

Under 2.5 goals – 21/20 (Betfair)

Over 2.5 goals – 3/4 (Betfair)

Kane on song – but so is DCL

Ireland’s lack of goals is reflected when you look at individuals.

Only one player has scored more than once for the nation since the 2018 World Cup, namely defender Shane Duffy, scorer of Ireland’s only goal this season, in Bulgaria back in September.

If Ireland have suffered something of a drought, England have enjoyed a goal flood across the same period with Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling to the fore.

Kane scored in all eight Euro 2020 qualifiers (12 goals in total), although he hasn’t netted in any of his last four England appearances.

Kane has started the season well though with 13 goals already for Tottenham in 14 appearances.

If handed his 50th cap here, he’ll be keen to get back on the goal trail with England, for whom he has scored three hat-tricks in his last 22 starts.

As for Sterling, he has 11 goals in his last 13 England internationals. Interestingly he has scored the opening goal in three of his last 13 games for his country. In the same time period, Kane has grabbed the first goal only twice in 14 starts.

With boss Gareth Southgate doubtless prioritising the Nations League fixtures to come, it could be that neither Kane nor Sterling start.

If that’s the case, Dominic Calvert-Lewin probably will.

The Everton star has already netted 11 times in 10 games for the Toffees this season. Having also scored on his international debut last month, he’s got 12 in 12 starts for club and country.

Harry Kane to score a hat-trick – 13/1 (Paddy Power)

Raheem Sterling to score first – 7/2 (Betfair)

Dominic Calvert-Lewin to score – 8/11 (Paddy Power)

Shane Duffy to score – 14/1 (Betfair)

Will England fix their discipline issue?

Much has been made of England’s poor discipline this season with Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire and Reece James (albeit after the final whistle) all being sent off.

In the same period, Ireland have also seen James McClean dismissed.

Yet, look longer term and cards have hardly been building up for these teams.

England collected only nine yellows across their eight Euro 2020 qualifiers. Ireland’s record was worse (13 yellows and one red) but still far from awful.

With referees usually pretty lenient in friendlies, the card count tends to dip in such matches.

Three of England’s last 11 friendlies have seen no cards shown by the referee, as have two of Ireland’s last four.

Southgate says he has hammered home the importance of keeping 11 men on the pitch so maybe we’ll see a more measured approach from England here.

Red card in the match – 17/2 (Paddy Power)

England red card – 17/1 (Paddy Power)

No cards (under 10 booking points) – 5/1 (Betfair)

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